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Friday, 15 December 1905

Mr THOMAS (Barrier) - I do not think that candidates should be allowed to bribe their way into Parliament ; but the honorable member's proposal is too wide in its scope. No doubt, at times a judicious donation to a church is as helpful to a candidate as is a gift to any other institution.

Mr Johnson - But it may take the form of bribery?

Mr THOMAS - That depends on the motive of the giver. A man may give £5 to a church about which he does not care a snap of the fingers. A man frequently subscribes to a church in much the same way that he would contribute to the funds of a cricket club, not because he cares anything ab?"t "the institution, but merely for the idea pf winning votes. I do not think that a man should be excluded from contributing to charitable and other institutions during the whole of the time that he is sifting as a member of Parliament, but he should not be permitted to contribute even to the funds of a church during the two or three months that elapse from the time that he announces himself as a candidate until the election takes place. No man can devote his money to a better purpose than a hospital; but a candidate can advertise himself as well by contributing to such an institution as in almost any other way. I have no feeling against churches, because I am a member of a church myself, but if a candidate were rich, he could, by judiciously subscribing to the churches in the electorate, go a long way towards assisting himself into a place in Parliament.

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